In my garage / workshop, I have nine, 4' dual fluorescent light fixtures.
In the kitchen, I have two 4' fluorescent (recessed) fixtures.
In closets, I have four 2' fluorescent fixtures
Each 4' tube is a standard T12 40W fluorescent tube. I buy a box of 10 from Home Depot or Lowes for about $20 ($2 per tube).
With all the lights on in the garage, that is 18 tubes x 40W each = 720W.
The kitchen is 4 tubes x 40w each = 160W
That is about 1000W of fluorescent tubes around the house.
Two things I hate: Paying power companies and paying oil companies.
So, I looked into converting my fluorescent tubes to LED.
Here is what I found:
* It is easy,
* Will cut your power at least in 1/2,
* Seem to be brighter,
* Costs about $10 per tube,
* They do not flicker in the cold
* No matter how cold it is, they turn on instantly and at full brightness (no warm up).
First, I found the LED tubes on eBay.
They range in price from $9 to $25 each tube.
* You can choose the brightness (Lumens). A typical 4' 40w fluorescent tube is 2600 to 2800 lumens.
* You can choose the color (Temperature in K). A typical 4' 40w fluorescent tube is "Cool White" and measures 4100K (kind of a "Creamy White" color)
* You can choose the power (Watts). The brightness of an 4' LED tube is directly related to power consumption.
I found a company selling on eBay:
They are based in the US, but everything they sell is from China (similar to the Online RC Helicopter hobby shops).
I chose 4 kinds of LED tubes:
1200mm 24W (3000L) 6500K (bright white w/ clear cover)
1200mm 20W (2400L) 6500K (bright white w/ a defused cover)
1200mm 20W (2400L) 4000K ("Cool White" w/ clear cover)
600mm 9W (1200L) 6500K (bright white w/ clear cover)
If you measure a 4' fluorescent tube, the actual length is about 47 1/4" (not counting the pins). The 1200mm (47.24" ) tube is a good fit in a standard 48" fixture.
A 2' fluorescent tube is around 23 1/4. The 600mm (23.62" ) tube is not a great fit for a 24" fixture. I forced it to fit. But, it is ugly.
The other factor is the difference between a "T12" and a "T8" tube.
On fluorescent tubes, a T12 is less efficient and larger diameter than a T8. But, they are the same length and same pin configuration.
For LED - it makes no difference. Everything is being sold as T8.
The 1200mm T8 LED tube fits perfectly in my antique "T12 only" fixtures and the newer "T8" fixtures.
Each LED tube has the same "Dual pin" connection as a standard fluorescent tube on each end. It snaps into the fixture exactly like a standard fluorescent tube.
The "sockets" on the fluorescent fixture (where the 2-pin ends of the tube snap in) are called "Tombstones".
Some tombstones have two wires and some have 1 wire.
If you wire it the way I did, it makes no difference
There are 2 ways to convert a standard fluorescent fixture to LED:
1) Buy the Philips InstantFit LED T8 Lamps. As long as your fixture is rated for T8, these are direct replacements for the standard fluorescent tube. No rewiring required. There is a smaller selection of brightness and colors and the are about $20 each.
2) Remove the ballast and rewire the fixture.
Rewiring fixture will power the LED tube with 85V to 277V AC directly to the ends of the LED tube. In my house, the "Line Voltage" is 120v AC - no problems.
This is by far the easiest and cheapest way to go.
There are 2 ways to rewire the fixture and I chose the easiest.
1) You cut out the ballast
2) Wire the "Line" (black wire) to all wires from all the tombstones on end #1
3) Wire the "Neutral" (white wire) to all the wire on all the tombstones on end #2.
On the easiest fixtures, I could leave the fixture in place on the ceiling, cut out the ballast, rewire it and button it all back up in less than 15min.
The hardest ones were the ones that didn't have a ballast - they used transformers and capacitors in the end-caps. I had to dismount them, break open the end-caps, rewire and remount them. These took about 30min each (good thing I only had 5 of those)
The really neat thing is that some of the fixtures now only have 1 LED tube. The LED provide a bright white color and seems to equal the brightness of 2 of the old fluorescent tubes in the same fixture.
In these cases, I actually cut the power by 75% over the dual 40w bulbs.
I used the 20W 4000K LED tubes in the kitchen
I used the 20W 6500K LED in some areas of the garage
I used the 24W 6500K LED in the workshop area of the garage and areas that I could get away with only 1 LED tube.
I expect to see a pretty good drop in the power used next month.
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